Propeller Safety Year in Review 2014

A review of the major propeller safety events in 2014 including safety meetings, accidents, legal cases, deaths of those involved in the movement, statistics, patents, articles published, public service announcements, anniversaries, regulations, and other related events.

  • 30 January 2014 MAIB released their investigative report on the Milligan accident at Padstow Harbor in the UK on 5 May 2013.
  • 7 February 2014 Bruce Porter, a popular diver, was struck by a dive boat propeller of New Zealand.
  • 18 February 2014 the Schulman v. Institute for Shipboard Education case was settled. The case concerned a December 2012 propeller fatality at Dominica in the Caribbean during a Semester at Sea voyage.
  • 13 March 2014 Jonathon McClure was ejected from a bass boat on Claremore Lake in Oklahoma and drowned. The unmanned boat circled after the soldier home on leave and his friend were ejected.
  • 19 April 2014 Todd Iwamoto, professional angler, died during a California fishing tournament after his boat struck a submerged object near a rail road bridge. The outboard motor was ripped off his boat. His inflatable PFD did not deploy.
  • 3 May 2014 Rex Chambers, professional angler, hit a submerged log during a fishing tournament. The drive came in still running and severely injured him and his fishing partner. Rex writes a newspaper column and later recounted his experiences in his column.
  • 4 May 2014 D.J. Laz accident near Key Biscayne, Florida in which Ernesto Hernandez was killed by the propellers while trying to free a large boat grounded on a sand bar. This accident received a lot of press as D.J. Laz is a well known local radio celebrity.
  • 8-9 May 2014 U.S. Coast Guard National Boating Safety Advisory Council (NBSAC) meeting at Arlington, Virgina.
  • 23 May 2014 we announced propeller strike accidents were up considerably in USCG’s 2014 annual Recreational Boating Statistics report. A few weeks later, USCG corrected the report. They had mistakenly switched some lines in the table. Prop strikes were actually slightly down.
  • 20-22 June 2014 Milligan Charitable Bike Ride in the UK raised about $700,000 US for two U.K. charities in memory of Nicholas and Emily Milligan killed by the family’s out of control circling boat in 2013. This was by far the largest and most successful charity event we have ever seen in memory of a propeller accident victim(s).
  • 28 June 2014 Drew Barefield, 12 struck by propeller of a passing boat while snorkeling with his father in Florida. He went on to spend a few months in the hospital as his family and others posted to a blog following his very challenging recovery just to get well enough to go home. His community, Crestview Florida, did a great job of providing moral support to Drew and his family.
  • 24 July 2014 Ryan Batchelder, 7, fell from the bow of a rented boat and was killed by propeller on Lake Burton, Florida.
  • 31 July 2014 Trevor Bach published “Dinner Key Tragedy: Advocates Say Florida Could Save Lives With One Simple Safety Law” in the Miami New Times. The article discusses kill switches in the aftermath of the Dinner Key accident which claimed four lives on July 4, 2014. Trever Bach recently published several articles on the boat party scene in South Florida, especially at Nixon Sandbar, and numerous associated accidents.
  • 6 August 2014 Emily Fedorko, 16, was on a tube when she was struck by the boat’s propeller and declared dead at the scene. The death of this beautiful young girl was covered very strong by the press compared to most propeller accidents. BoatUS even issued a safety warning on the Today Show a couple weeks later as they covered the accident.
  • 12 August 2014 Brunswick was issued U.S. Patent 8.803,711 for their moving propeller alert system.
  • October 2014 Konstaninos Angelopoulos filed a $30 million lawsuit against Volvo Penta, Grady White, and others in the aftermath of his daughter’s 2011 propeller accident at Virginia Beach. The lawsuit filed earlier, received considerable press in October.
  • 17 October 2014 a gold 43 foot Midnight Express powered by five 300 horsepower Mercury Marine Verado engines stuck a snorkeler off Florida with its propellers. The accident captured a lot of attention in part due the boat and to the operator’s parents showing up with a lawyer at the site.
  • 18 October 2014 we posted a six part series on the duty of boating manufacturers to monitor the safety of their products after sale, and the importance of over 10,000 currently invisible accidents in the BARD database to that endeavor. We bundled some of the materials for the upcoming NBSAC meeting to try to encourage them to grant access to boat and marine drive manufacturers, and to boating safety professionals.
  • 6-8 November 2014 National Boating Safety Advisory Council (NBSAC) meeting Arlington, Virginia. We supplied a public letter on the grant proposals suggesting a study of kill switch wear rates. As to the main meeting, we supplied two public comment letters. One calling for increased access to non-releasable bard accident data in order to prevent future accidents, and one calling attention to the many recent incidents of large outboard motors striking submerged objects, breaking loose, and flipping into the boat under power. Neither letter was mentioned during the meeting or posted on where the public comments were to be posted.
  • 10-11 November 2014 the Milligan accident inquest in the UK found the incident to be an accident.
  • 12 November 2014 we published a two part post on preventing over the bow pontoon boat accidents and propeller strikes.
  • During 2014 the Mark Barhanovich case continued as sides fire volleys at each other. Still no decision on the Jones Act portion of the case. Dredging contractors continue to try to blame the drive builder and builder of the jackplate which brings in players outside the U.S. and bankruptcy issues. This one may take a long time to sort out.

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